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Sven Wohl's blog

6:28 AM on 10.18.2014

Making some progress with my videogame writing

Hello fellow Dtoiders,

If you remember my last post here on the Cblogs, you know that I have become a videogame writer. Since I started out in this very community, I occasionally come back to you in order to tell you about the game I help creating. Since my first post, “Ralin – Dwarf Wars” has come a long way – not only in terms of story! Let me show you a video that shows, how the game has evolved these last six months. Please keep in mind, that the recording software darkens the image more, that it actually is.

I don't know about you, but I am fairly impressed by what I'm seeing here, at least for an early alpha version. We are now getting close to releasing a first demo and getting the game on Steam Greenlight. Of course, these are only the very first steps and we are still considering in which direction we are going to take the game in terms of publishing it.

Now, working on this has been a lot of fun. Sure, I had the drop several elements I had created for the game, but the Setting and the overall plot have now been decided on. We have a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, in which the different fantasy races struggle to survive underground inside the dwarven kingdom. A relic that is rumored to be able to fix the situation is stolen and the dwarves try to get it back. While this plot seems a bit simple, we're relying more on the setting and mood to deliver narrative than a huge, complex plot with many side-characters, which would slow the pace of the game down.

The game is going to be like “Diablo” only with a hardcore mode engaged by default. This means it plays even more like a rogue-like. While the basic concept so far is very clear, the minute details are still hashed out. For more Art, videos and background information, you can check out the indiedb page for the game or visit the studio, Ogardonix, on Facebook.

We're very thankful for any kind of feedback!


7:27 AM on 07.26.2014

I´m back and I´ve brought presents!

Wow, I haven't posted something in here for almost two years? Man...

Don't worry, I have not been gone completely. In between, I wrote stories for the Destructoid main site for a few months and became a journalist for a national (luxembourgish) newspaper afterwards. Still, I consider the C-Blogs my birthplace in terms of being a writer.

So, why did I come back? Well, I´m now part of an indie developer in my home country. I´m the writer in a team of ten people, pretty much the first studio in Luxembourg and we´re working on a little game called "Ralin - Dwarf wars". What follows now is a repost of my original blog post. Hope you enjoy it, and I´m looking forward to your comments!

I’ve now been a videogame writer for almost a week now. To be frank, I still haven’t realized, that I am one now, that I somehow managed to break into that industry, but hey, I still have a lot of time to do that. One week might not seem like a lot, but I was able to get a lot of experience, which is worth a lot.

That´s mostly the case because writing while being part of a team is completely different from writing all alone. Or let´s say, writing a chapter and then sending it to your test-readers. You get way more direct feedback you can then use in order to improve the story. Unsurprisingly, that is way more fun and it also rewards experimentation, as you can quickly change something that isn´t quite working the way you intended it to.

What´s also kind of new to me is to write fiction in English. Now, I wrote plenty of blogposts and essays in English, but a narrative? No, that´s completely new to me and I´m surprised how well I´m doing, since up until now, all my experience with that has been a passive one. While nothing I’ve written for the game so far is perfect, I still manage to produce a certain level of quality, which reassures me in many ways.

Oh yeah, I should talk a bit about the game. So “Ralin – Dwarf Wars” (I’m going with Ralin, since that is shorter) is a roguelike dungeonrunner game produced by the Luxembourgish indie gamedev “Gaming-Gears”. I imagine it a bit like a harder version of Diablo with permadeath. That makes telling a story a bit more difficult, as I have no real protagonist to work with, so there’s more time flowing into backstory and dialogue at that moment.

While this is a different approach to storytelling than you can find in a novel for example, writing it is hugely enjoyable, since I know that it’s part of a greater experience. It´s clear to me that all the team members have a clear grasp of what they want to achieve, which is a great sign. In terms of narrative, we want to deliver something unique and dark with Ralin and as far as I can see, we´re right on track with it.

I´ll write more about the story behind Ralin and the development as things become more concrete. I hope you´ll enjoy reading about my work on that game as much as I enjoy working on the game.

[i]Want to know more about Ralin? Like Gaming-Gears on Facebook and follow them on Twitter! Also, check the game out on indiedb! You can also follow me personally on Twitter!
[/i]   read

8:27 AM on 12.23.2012

My personal 'Games I love that are generally overlooked'-list for 2012

So, hello there! Long time no see, I know. I've been quite busy, thanks to my new job as a full-time journalist. Still, I need to blog from time to time, and as it's the end of the year, I guess I have to pick my games of the year. Since pretty much everyone does that, I'm going to choose some games, that don't land on these lists quite often enough. So, this is my "Games I love that are generally overlooked"-list for 2012.

Super Monday Night Combat

This just had to be on the list. I put over 100 hours into this game, which is amazing considering the fact that I have like zero free time left. Still this interesting Moba-esque Team Fortress-like multiplayer team shooter is a lot of fun, even though it is really hard to get into at first. However, the game is overlooked a lot. I can't quite pin down, why that is, but if I had to guess, it's probably the steep learning curve and the fact that it is quite different from the "normal" Monday Night Combat. Since player numbers are dwindling fast, it has also become quite hard to find games anymore. Which is bad news if you like to play it every now and then.

Civilization V: Gods and Kings

Civilization V is one of my all-time favorite games and it's kind of weird how practically nobody talks about this game. The expansion pack that has been released this year brought many new 'old' things to the table. They are mostly elements, that were in Civ IV and were missing in Civ V, but still, religion and espionage are great fun! Also, some of the new civilizations, like Austria, are really fun to play. If only the multiplayer would work better.

Everything Grasshopper Manufacture made this year

Sure, Lollipop Chainsaw got a fair amount of ads, but in terms of awards, the game hasn't received too many yet. While it isn't a perfect game by any stretch, I feel like it deserved some more praise. Other Grasshopper Manufacture games like 'Sine Mora', 'Liberation maiden' and 'Black Knight Sword' also flew under the radar of most people, which is a shame, since they all are really interesting little games.

So, that's pretty much my selection of overlooked games. I think everyone has a few of those games, that he or she just loves but feels that not enough people got around to play them. The fun thing about these lists is, that they help you to find some hidden gems... If you have any hidden gems of 2012, that you feel are underappreciated, then feel free to share them in the comment section or in a separate C-Blog. And thanks for reading!   read

5:55 AM on 05.21.2012

Videogames make me feel younger... and I'm cool with that

One of the weirdest things about hitting your mid-20s is, that you feel young and like a teenager in some areas while fully realizing that you're actually getting old. Not old in objective terms, but you certainly feel a certain disconnect with “young people”, as you've started calling them, or “teenagers”, a word you'll say more and more in the way Max Scoville does. I've already had my fair share of “get off my lawn” moments, so I'm practically there, but looking at the videogames I play right now, I kind of noticed a few things.

First of all: Yep, I'm getting old. It has been 12 years since the last Diablo game and 9 years since the last Max Payne game. What adds to this is that Sega is constantly banging the retro-drum with the latest Sonic games and slowly brings back those Dreamcast games everyone seems to be yelling for. Then there's Kickstarter, where a new Carmageddon is being funded. Carmageddon! I played that when I was a kid!

Which leads me to my second part: Playing the sequels to some of my favorite games when I was a teenager makes me feel younger, at least for a short time. It's not quite on par with what Mega Man 9 or 10 did for me, de facto turning me into a 6-year-old again, but still bringing me back to the days where I was between 14 and 16 years old and playing Diablo 2 all night. What's irritating though, is the fact that I play those games in order to review them for a newspaper, which of course somewhat alters my interaction with those games. Still, the effect is there, and it makes me reconsider my age and feel younger at the same time.

And I'm cool with that!   read

10:42 AM on 07.19.2011

Dear videogame industry, we need to talk...

You keep on disappointing me! Not everyone in the industry, mind you, but a select few that make me feel sad on a regular basis create a feeling of distrust and dislike for you as an industry. Maybe I should explain to my dear readers why that is... I'll try to keep this short.

Nintendo's behavior

I have said this several times already, but I think I can say it again, with newly gained trust behind my words: I don't get Nintendo! So, Reggie comes on stage during E3 saying that they'll do everything to get the Hardcore gamers back. Heck, when didn't they make that promise, actually? A few weeks later, there's this Operation Rainfall campaign, so that the Wii can be more than some Netflix-box or an overprized paperweight. I live in Europe, so I shouldn't actually care about this, but still, I think Nintendo's behavior just downright sucks when it comes to releasing games. If that is your attitude when it comes to localization, don't be such dicks and make your consoles AND handhelds region locked! You're just begging hackers to take your systems apart!

And I still want my Fatal Frame 4!

Don't get me started on the 3DS either. Say what you want about the system, it just wasn't ready when it was kicked out of the door! No e-shop, almost no games worth mentioning in the first few months... heck, if you take away the Nintendo-64 ports, it's actually worse than the initial Nintendo DS library! The 3DS is running on ports right now: Street Fighter 4, Dead or Alive, Ocarina of time, Starfox... where are the original games? WHERE?

Sale-figures or 'What the heck are people buying??'

Duke Nukem Forever sold 700k units up until now. Shadows of the Damned 60k. Don't get me started on No More Heroes for the PS3, which is out in Japan and Europe. I'm just wondering what kind of logic operates here. Because, at the moment, I think people want Duke Nukem Forever 2 and Goichi Suda to be a homeless bum. Is 'Quality Control' something that really exists? Or is it just a myth, that you choose what games will be produced by choosing which games to buy right now? I heard a lot of people disliked Duke Nukem Forever and liked Shadows of the Damned. What is going on here? Speaking of games being produced...

Mega Man Legend 3 cancelled...

… and you know what's the sad part about this? The Dev team that worked on that will probably move on to make another Resident Evil or Street Fighter game. Because there aren't enough of those and they aren't totally stagnant by now! It's not only that, but also the fact that after all these months of teasing us and involving fans in the development process, the game just gets canned. What kind of relationship do you have with you fanbase? One coming straight from your local S/M-Club I'd assume...

In Conclusion...

The industry makes me sad, because it constantly disappoints me in so many ways. There are a lot of decisions being taken that don't make much sense or just show that an industry that brought so much magic into my childhood actually just is a huge, money-making machine, run by people who don't really get their target audience...

Also, cocks!   read

2:08 PM on 06.13.2011

Movies, videogames and (un)reasonable expectations

Hello there, it's me. Yes, I know, I have been gone for quite some time now, haven't I? Why? I was kind of busy working for a gaming website and now I'm working for another Gaming Website, that focuses on Sega and thus gives me some time to write about other games on my personal blog here. Who do I write for now? Oh silly you, check the sidebar! Because everything else would be shameless advertising and as we all know, this community does not take kindly on shameless self-promotion!

Now, this is a blog dedicated to Josmeister, who became my 100th follower on Twitter and thus had the opportunity to choose the topic of a blog-post. Guess what, he wanted me to write about videogames and movies, so I did! Here we go!

'Videogames need to be more like movies'

This sentence is something that quite some people have been yelling repeatedly in random intervals for a lot of reasons. But let's focus on one of the most prominent loud persons in the videogame business to utter this sentence: David Cage.

Now don't get me wrong: I like David Cage! He's a guy with a vision and he tries really hard to fulfill that vision, which is something I can fully understand and actually get behind of. Unfortunately, his games are, in my honest opinion, lacking. There are many arguments for why they don't deliver, but my guess is that since you're reading this on Destructoid, you've all heard about what's wrong about these games.

However, I don't think that his initial claim is invalidated by his poor delivery. It's just that I don't think that he means the same thing as I do when I read that sentence. He seems to think: 'Games need to have long cut-scenes and a lot of dialogue in order to get their story across etc.' and I think: 'Games and movies should be able to be about the same things'.

So, his approach is more about the 'how' of storytelling in videogames while my standpoint is more about the 'what' of storytelling. Now, granted, this is a bit exaggerated, because on the 'what'-side of things, David Cage and I are pretty much on the same page: Games also should be about something different than violence. This is not to say that we should get rid of all our nice, little FPSes or God of Wars. Nope! This is about diversification!

Take Heavy Rain as example! Here, David Cage tried (and I chose that word for many reasons) to deliver a story about fatherhood. Sure, there is violence, but it is somewhat diminished if compared to other games. Or let's take L.A. Noire! Yes, yes, I know, also violence, but just think about the many stories this game is telling you in a rather well done way. Thematically speaking, these games are way more diversified than what we're normally used to. Sure, there are the Cooking Mamas and Trauma Centers, but they are not huge Triple A titles that get a lot of mainstream attention. A title like L.A. Noire on the other hand, does. This is of course no reason to claim only Triple A titles matter, just wanted to point out, that they have a more widespread recognition.

This, as far as I'm concerned, is pretty much the only point, where videogames should try to imitate other narrative media. In terms of delivery, I wouldn't say that it would be a good idea to look too much to other media, since one key component of videogames, interactivity, is not present there, at least for the most part.

So, I guess I made my point here, nice and clean. Hope you liked it, hope I didn't steal away too much of your time and thank you for reading. I'm happy about any kind of feedback!   read

10:09 AM on 04.01.2011

EUFNF March 32nd - Community Edition

Holy Crap, I haven't done this in quite some time. I sure hope I'm not too much out of shape.
So, EUFNF is a thing that happens every Friday. People from all over Europe or indeed anywhere join up in order to shoot, punch and do other stuff to each other in order for their personal amusement. There are games played on every major platform (including the brand-new 3DS) and some people have terrible accents that will make your ears bleed.

So these are the games for tonight:

Platform: PC/Mac, Steam.
Game: Whatever you can get people to play. Steamtoid is a fun hangout.
Join the Steam group chat to find us!
Time: Anytime. All of the time.

Platform: 3DS
Game: Super Street Fighter 4 3D
Gamers: Subenu (3523-2055-2417)
Time: 20.00 CET | 19.00 GMT | 14.00 EST

Platform: Playstation 3
Game: Red Dead Redemption (Vanilla)
Gamers: Ramalhera, jjMccallum, juani-arg, aurain, Foolishbean69
Time: 21.00 CET | 20.00 GMT | 15.00 EST

Platform: Playstation 3
Game: Socom beta
Gamers: Foolishbean69
Time: 21.00 CET | 20.00 GMT | 15.00 EST

Platform: Xbox 360
Games: Halo Reach, BF1943, L4D, Rapelay 2, ODST, Halo Wars. Basically, TBA.
Gamers: Tarvu (The Kinky Ninja), The Guy with the Hat, Subenu, Death by Lumber
Time: 21.00 CET | 20.00 GMT | 15.00 EST   read

2:02 PM on 03.08.2011

100 Hours of Civilization 5: A conclusion of sorts

Civilization has been one of those series that never left my side since I first started playing them. I think I was 12 when I started playing the second one, with its somewhat simplistic graphics and unbalanced gameplay. It was terribly hard to get into at first: Mechanisms seemed complex and mystifying, but the appeal of leading your own civilization through time was so great, that I was able to surpass those starting problems.

That's what Civ 2 looked like, back in the day. Simple, but very easy on your CPU/GPU, unlike the newer ones...

Many years later, I got my first hours on Civilization 5 as part of a review I had to write on it for the newspaper I do my reviews for. I was quite skeptical in my review back then, stating that I was worried that the simplified mechanics led to an overly superficial gameplay experience. I wrote that review after 25 hours of gameplay, but I was not sure, if I my impression of it, as mixed as it was, actually holds true after more time. So, what are my conclusions after 100 hours of gameplay?

First of all, yes, mechanics have been trimmed down quite a bit, in order to make the game accessible. Of course, that is not a bad thing at all. Does it really reduce my enjoyment of the game? Not really. Or rather, not anymore. One thing I had to get used to is, that I need to set up a higher difficulty for the game, to find it as entertaining as I found the fourth game. The AI in the game isn't really the brightest up until Prince difficulty. If it came to a war, I had absolutely no problem defeating three different opponents at the same time and getting huge deals out of those following peace treaties. That was way too unchallenging, and made Dominance Victories too easy to achieve.

Alternative victories are way more interesting in that perspective. While a cultural victory is just a grind-fest, political victories are the most interesting and hard to achieve ones of the bunch. Countless options and the new DLC help a lot to keep the motivation high, and there are mods, conveniently placed into a separate mode. It's no stretch for me to assume that I am going to arrive at 200 hours playtime too. All in all, I am surprised how well the game keeps up, even after those difficulties at the beginning.   read

9:48 AM on 03.05.2011

My Experience as a Videogame Reviewer, Month 6

You know, it's somewhat unsettling and surprising to me that after six months, I'm still doing this job. Writing a videogame review week after week after week, just like any other daily routine I have. If I had a time machine and could tell my former self that I would be doing this while being a student, I'd slap myself in the face. The sheer thought that there are some crazy people, willing to pay me for writing down my opinion of a game for a newspaper is nothing short of mind-boggling. Yet, here I am, writing a blog about my experiences of the sixth month into this.

In my last blog, the descriptions of the review processes were shorter than before, and some requested having a more in-depth view into the review processes themselves. That wish shall be granted, but I want to open another topic first. This time, I want to briefly talk about social media and how important they are, if you want to get into the 'writing stuff about videogames'-business. I don't know about your stance on social media, but one thing is for certain: Facebook and Twitter are helping to bring down regimes in North Africa and the Middle East. Meaning, they can also be of great help, when it comes to promoting your stuff.

First rule of thumb here: promote everything you write everywhere where it makes sense. It's also important to be consistent about it, since some of your followers will only react to stuff you put on these platforms. Twitter is great, because it makes promoting stuff quite easy. Facebook on the other hand is a bit more complex: If you have connections to certain local stores that have their own Facebook page, ask for permission to share links on their walls. Are you member of a local or national gaming group? Do the same there. It helps your popularity and you are almost certain to get feedback. If you don't get feedback immediately, you can always ask for some constructive criticism. I have yet to check out Tumblr, so if anyone has experiences of that, feel free to share!

Alright, I think that is enough about that. Down to the reviews. Remember, I always include the links to the original reviews. If you want to read them, rune them through Google Translator or something similar, you'll get the gist of it. Feel free to tweet and like them too!

Monday Night Combat (Steam)

This review has been a long time in the making. I initially started playing the Beta right away, since I really liked the game on Xbox Live Arcade. Back then, it came out mere weeks before I started doing reviews regularly, so I couldn't use it in the first go. Fortunately enough this version came around. After initially mixed impressions of the Beta, which was kind of a mess, I waited until the game was released (after being pushed back twice).

Reviewing a multiplayer online game is always different, since your experience depends on other people participating. In a worst case scenario, you'll have problems to connect to any games or find good parties for co-op stuff. After having wrestled down initial connection problems, however, I was able to enjoy myself. The review benefited from me being able to draw comparisons to the Xbox Live arcade version, which always is a plus. I did spend around ten hours with the game before actually writing the review. It was then that I felt having narrowed down all the small differences and felt like being able to write something cohesive about it. All in all, the piece is fairly standard in it's writing, but effective and informative.

Speaking of reviews that have been a long time in the making, the week later, I published my review of:

DC Universe Online

I got that one on launch day and decided to play the whole free month that comes with buying the game in order to review it. After initially positive impressions and playing it regularly for about a week, I found out that I had huge problems with this game. Those huge problems led to one of my very best reviews I have written so far!

The thing is, I played the game for a week, and then didn't play it for two weeks. Not because of time schedule problems or anything like that, no. It was simply because it was not a whole lot of fun. It took me quite some time, to figure out why that is, but it was when I talked to Aurain, what the problems were that I had with this game: It reduces Superheroes (and heroine) down to the bare minimum. Which in this case would be, punching (among other things) Supervillains (and vice versa of course). By doing that, the whole point of superheroes having alter egos, daily lives, personal problems, you know, the interesting stuff, is just left outside. Heck, if I make a superhero, I want to have my personal equivalent to the Batcave!

This resulted in a fairly long paragraph of me describing why the game already fails in its concept because it can't get the essence of comic book heroes right. I got a lot of feedback about this review, and that makes me quite happy.

Dead Space 2

One of the first big games this year, Dead Space 2 certainly was different from the stuff I did in February up to that point: I only had a week with the game before writing the review and it had both a Single- and Multiplayer experience.

My biggest problem during this review was to determine how far I should judge the game on it's 'Horror'-premise. While playing the game, I was thinking to myself that it is a quite effective shooter, and that is actually what I went with in the end. Nice shooting, some ineffective horror elements and way too much splatter. It actually came to the point where I thought it was quite tasteless, and that element also found it's way into the review itself. It was more dominant in the first version than in the final one though. After several corrections, I told myself it was not that much of a problem to me, so I toned it down. Still, I wanted to include some ambiguity in face of the violence, hence the challenging title of the review (roughly translated: 'Overly violent?').

Mass effect 2 (PS3)

I was actually quite thankful to Bioware for releasing a port of Mass Effect 2 for the PS3. This is mostly due to the fact that it is my favorite game of 2010 and reviewing it was quite a lot of fun. I rushed through the game, since I had completed it already twice before, once on the highest difficulty. It was a breeze, I didn't notice any real big differences and could thus concentrate on the narrative and the like.

The review wasn't as positive as I suspected it would turn out. Having played the game so many times, I could narrow down some problems with it, that I would not have been able to if I had played it only once. The judgment of your moral choices by game is stupid, for the lack of a better word and the game has some lengths. I was happy about being able to point out some of these because else, the review would have been way too positive and unbalanced in a way.

Alright, that's it for February. I hope you liked it! If you have any comment or question, write them in the comment section. Remember, you can find me on Twitter (@Subenu), so feel free to add me there!   read

5:43 AM on 02.19.2011

Groundhog Day: No More Heroes (slightly NSFW!)

'No More Heroes' is definitely my Groundhog Day game. There are many reasons for me returning again and again to this game since it was released in Europe in March 2008. Considering that I've already written some blog-posts about this game, I will reduce some paragraphs in order to keep this readable and maybe even interesting.

The main reason why I love this game so much is that it's just fun to play. While the fight-system itself may involve quite a lot of button mashing, the finishing moves are fun to pull off and feel really satisfying thanks to the motion gestures. Yes, this actually is one of the few games where I think the motion gestures make it a bit more entertaining and fun. Enemies who explode into fountains of money improve that enjoyment too. Unfortunately, the European version is censored, so no blood for us. I still hope that the HD version of the game will be uncensored...

As I keep saying, the Characters are very... uhm... interesting!

The graphics are also a very important factor. Not because there are a whole lot of interesting effects going on (there aren't) or because there are a lot of polygons pushed by the powerhouse that is the Wii (which it most definitely isn't). Heck, even the textures look like something the Dreamcast could have pulled off. No, what I'm talking about is the Art Style. Cel-Shading has become a staple of the industry since games like Fear Effect or Wind Waker, and this game constantly reminds me why: It's simplistic, yet nice to watch, while it is not too demanding in processor power. The game could look crisper, but again my hopes lie with the HD version coming out sometime soon. In the end, the unique art style makes this game instantly recognizable.

This is artwork from the Hopper's Edition of the HD-version of the Game.

The music is unique, and I downright fell in love with some tracks. Especially the one playing while fighting Henry at the very end is really memorable. Sound-design overall is pretty solid and some voice actors are brilliant. Especially Travis manages to come across as somebody most 'gamers' can identify with.

But these are not really the reasons why I love this game or why I replay it at least once a year. I love this game, because it makes me THINK. Yeah, you read right: A game that makes me think... about what exactly?

There are some very obvious choices here, since the game is, at some level, about designing games. The whole thing is more or less criticizing the way how the videogame industry partially drives itself into death. It copies videogame concepts, throws them at you and gives you an opportunity to think about them. This is of course a theme that is very dominant in the sequel, but I'll talk about that another time.

Videogame concepts are not the only concepts that are present here. I already wrote a long piece about how No More Heroes also discusses certain gender constructions. The characters are actually the main factor for pulling me back into the game: They are, in themselves, concepts that hit their auto-destruct button during their introduction scene. Prime example? Bad Girl looks like a very stereotypical, idealized woman and sex-object, but behaves in very male, if not disgusting ways that are based on the very perversion of the concept. To a certain extend, all the characters in the No More Heroes universe are based on that very basic concept. It is just plain fun, to see how they give the counterconcept to the players perception.

To keep this from becoming way too long, I should stop here.
Tl;dr I love No More Heroes, and to most people this shouldn't be news.   read

10:53 AM on 02.10.2011

No more heroes, indeed!

This is probably not news to anybody anymore, but Activision actually decided to finish off its Hero-franchises. No more Guitar Hero, no more DJ Hero, and my guess is no more Band Hero too, because frankly, who bought that? So, here I give you some personal thoughts about the whole thing:

To be very honest here, it does not hit me as a real surprise that major parts of the music game genre are gone now, with some minor exceptions. The reasons for that are numerous, but my guess is the decline in sale figures is one thing. Oversaturation of the market? Definitely another reason.

The interesting question to ask now is: What did we (the industry) learn?
Well, the best response to that is: To not milk a franchise until it is dead.
How do we do that?
By not producing several titles in the franchise per year!

See, there is something perplexing about this whole situation: Activision sees that the whole Hero-Series died, because they oversaturated the market. And I can see the business logic behind releasing a new game in the franchise every year, since doing that turned out to be more profitable for them then just releasing DLC. Sale figures were high for all platforms and everyone loved it. On the other hand, the 'Jekyll' part of Activision, Blizzard, does the exact opposite, or at least for the most part: They take some time to release new games in their franchises. StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3 came and come out many years later than their predecessors. They sell well and are actually able to keep up quality or at least a certain amount of innovation.

How does Activision react? By releasing more Call of Duty Games! Unfortunately, consumers will most likely support this kind of action, because let's be honest: Those are the same people that bought the Medal of Honor reboot and are going to buy the numerous Resident Evil games that Capcom will bring out in order to raise their profit.

The sad and exceedingly funny part is, that we then turn our head to a game like Enslaved or your favorite underselling Wii-title du jour and whine about how those games get ignored. There is an easy solution to the whole situation. It's the thing we did to bring Guitar Hero and Rock Band down (two things we should at least partially rejoice about!) and would be able to stop the onslaught of military shooters and shovel ware:

We stopped buying them.   read

8:19 AM on 01.29.2011

My Experience as a videogame reviewer, Month 5: Getting in touch!

It's already the fifth month in my videogame-reviewing career, and things aren't exactly slowing down. Sure, the review process takes less and less time, mostly because I'm now able to write a pretty nice review in about 20 minutes (excluding corrections etc.), but there is a new layer of the job that has become more important now and it mostly consists of writing mails and getting in touch with developers and publishers.

One problem about starting to do videogame reviews is, that in the beginning, you will have to pay for the games yourself, which significantly reduces the amount of money you earn from your review, so you will have to sell most of you purchases afterwards, in order to break even. This means of course that you will also love to review downloadable titles, since they aren't so demanding when it comes to the budget. Those titles are usually smaller and easier to review, which is why I liked to review them in the past few months, and also in this month. So, after a while, you start thinking: 'Gee, I really want to get some free review copies!'. Well, here is how you can do it!

I have to mention that up until last month, my reviews weren't available online. This basically meant, that my editor in chef had to make the contacts and that publisher would want hard copies of the review. Since they are now available online, I invested the last few weeks into contacting various developers. I don't want to go into the details, but I have none the less some interesting tips.

First of all, what your e-mail address looks like is really important. I'm sorry, but [email protected] just isn't going to cut it when you wanna contact a publisher. It doesn't have to be too fancy, most publishers react already to a address with you full name in front. It has a certain feel of professionalism to it.

Second rule of thumb: Be polite! Really, this is totally basic stuff, but I mention it anyway: Say Hello, tell them who you are, tell them who you work for and what you want from them. You deal with people, not machines! Getting on to the media list is normally a good start. Say please. Write an extra answer just in order to say thanks. It's the little things...

Well, enough of that, on to the reviews. I will mention more tips in future blogs though!

Mushihimesama Bug Panic

I sure love Cave-games, and this one is no exception. I spend a lot of time with it before reviewing it, and I can safely say that it is one of their best efforts for the past few years. The first exclusive iPhone game from them, it's an interesting mixture of shmup and exploration game. It got a very positive review.

Back to the Future: Episode 1

Somewhat of a reserve review, I really enjoyed the game and it was quite fun to review. It also got quite some reactions, which is unusual, because I normally don't get that much feedback. Seems that Back to the Future as a franchise really draws a lot of attention.

Zeit 2

This was somewhat of an urgency review. I was lacking any kind of game I could review so I picked this one. Pretty much tore the game apart for being boring, repetitive and bringing nothing new to the table. And now, traveling back in time is not a new mechanic. Graphical design is terrible and the music is bland. In my opinion, the game just simply wasn't worth it, and by this it became an easy game to review. Pretty much the definition of a mediocre game. Yet, I was very surprised by the more positive reviews of the game. None the less, I stood by my own opinion and did not change the review.

Ghost Trick

It was quite stressful to complete this game under time pressure, but I still had a lot of fun and was able to quickly write a very positive review about this one. I would have had more time if another game came out in that week, but unfortunately, January up to that point was lacking big releases. That of course means that smaller releases get more attention, which in this case, is a great thing.

Well, that's pretty much it for this month. I'm open to comments of any kind and I can be found on Twitter (@Subenu).   read

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